Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Whole New Baltimore Family Found!

Having finally identified the parents of my 3x great-grandmother Rebecca Skillman in the past year, Jacob Skillman and Elizabeth Clackner,  I was subsequently led into a whole new fascinating family. Or five!

Jacob and Elizabeth were married in 30 January 1823 in Baltimore and, according to the newspaper notice, had at least 3 children before Elizabeth died 9 November 1834 at age 32. (I've not identified the other 2 children.)

So Elizabeth Clackner was born on March 27, 1802 in Baltimore, the first born of Adam Clackner, Jr and Rebecca Gill. With a unique name like Clackner, I was hoping for some easy finds (for once) and I wasn't disappointed! City directories, deeds, wills,  and newspapers laid out the Clackner family grouping:
Father Adam Sr and wife Elizabeth, their children Adam Jr, Catherine, Lydia, Hannah, Joseph and John.

Both Adams were stone masons, but Adam Jr actually owned a quarry on the north edge of Baltimore. When he died in 1818 after a long illness, his wife Rebecca ran the quarry herself until her death in 1847. During the time that they owned it, they supplied stone for several high-profile projects in town (more on that later).

The absolutely coolest find was 6x great-grandfather Adam Sr's Revolutionary War pension file on Fold3!! Not only did it contain handwritten letters from his son Joseph with amazing details of his life, but also a copy of his original commission in August, 1776 as a 2nd Lieutenant in a Company of Foot in the 3rd Battalion of Associators in the County of Philadelphia!! And it is signed by John Morton, then Speaker of the PA Assembly, who later authored a large portion of the Declaration of Independence.

The rest of the file is chock full of info, including that the US Government later discontinued Adam's pension due to his owning property, despite being unable to work and having to support his ill wife and son. Joseph was a great letter writer, demanding explanation for their change in his eligibility. His pension does not appear to have been reinstated when he died in 1826.

Now, more about Adam Jr: As a quarry owner and mason, he submitted estimates and bills to the Baltimore government for building bridges, installing curbstones and supplying stone for other projects. One such project was the magnificent Battle Monument.

The Battle Monument, located on Calvert Street, was started on 12 September 1815, a year to the day after the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812, which honors those lost.  It was the first monument in the country to commemorate a battle and is featured in the flag and Seal of Baltimore City. It lists each person's name on bands that wrap around the column and Lady Baltimore stands atop it.

Mid 1800's

Recently Lady Baltimore was removed and replaced with a concrete duplicate, but the original can still be seen at the MD Historical Society.

A recent trip to the Baltimore City Archives garnered me this document:

This is a list of income and expenses for the Battle Monument! There are two line items to A. Clackner for stone; one for $250 and one for $68.

Here is an proposal he wrote to build a bridge:

I found lots of documents like this thanks to the City Archives WPA Index which you can find HERE.

More to follow!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Founding Fathers

The Mayflower

I've had some fabulous luck with my mother's difficult family in the past 6 months, so I thought I had better look at some holes in my Dad's side. His Canadians have turned out to be mostly Loyalists, which means that they left America around the time of the Revolution.

I had previously determined that one line there, Herrington, had begun in New Brunswick with Loyalist Joseph Corbin Herrington, my 4x great grandfather, who arrived there in the Spring Fleet in May of 1783 as a single man. I haven't found anything about his origin. But his wife, Mercey Ryder, is another story!

Mercey's father, Ebenezer, was born in Chatham, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. His parents, John & Mary (Paine) moved the family to Southeast, NY when Ebenezer was four. He grew up, married, bought his own land there and raised a family of 7 children.

When the war started, Ebenezer stood with the Loyalists, which resulted in his property being confiscated and him being driven behind the British line. His wife, still in Southeast, lost an infant and then her own life in 1782. He then packed up his children, boarded "The Two Sisters," and headed for part of Nova Scotia (later to become New Brunswick), where they were promised 200 acres of Crown land and two years' provisions. ( I would guess that this is also what happened to the Herringtons.)

Ebenezer settled in Maugerville in the summer of 1783 and awaited his land grant. He died a year later, with his grant coming just 26 days later. The children ranged in age from 9 to 17, leaving Stephen, the eldest, to raise them.

Signing of the Mayflower Compact

Now to get to the Founding Fathers part of the story! Ebenezer Ryder's mother was Mary Paine, whose father was Ebenezer Paine (1692 - 1762) of Cape Cod. He is descended from two Mayflower passengers - Stephen Hopkins (through his father Joseph Paine) and William Brewster (through his mother Patience Sparrow). Mary Paine also traces to William Brewster through her mother, Rebecca Mayo. Both men are my 11x great-grandfathers and both authored and signed the Mayflower Compact.

Stephen Hopkins was an adventurer who started out on a journey to Jamestown in 1609, having left  his family in England. On the voyage, the ship  hit a hurricane, was blown off course and shipwrecked on Bermuda. While there for 10 months, he was sentenced to death for mutiny, talked his way out of that and helped build 2 ships to carry them back to Virginia. He turned around the conditions of the settlers there, but returned to England upon learning of his wife Mary's death. A factual book on Stephen Hopkins' life is pictured below.)

He remarried, heard of the Mayflower journey and packed up his children and new wife to sail to America. His daughter Constance, also on the ship,  is who I am descended from.

Constance married Col. Nicholas Snow who came over on the ship "Anne"  in 1623. They moved to and founded Nauset, later called  Eastham, on Cape Cod around 1645 with 6 others. He was the first town clerk, a deputy, surveyor of highways, constable and selectman. They had 12 children.

Beaver hat said to belong to Constance Hopkins Snow, in Plymouth Hall Museum

Their daughter Mary married Thomas Paine, Jr, another of the founders of Eastham,  They had 11 children, including my ancestor Joseph Paine.

Joseph was town clerk of Harwich. He married Patience Sparrow and had 11 children.

Patience Sparrow's descendency is as follows:

William Brewster, his wife and 2 of his sons were passengers on the Mayflower. William was the only university educated passenger and a Separatist leader. Upon arrival in Plymouth, he became the senior elder of the colony, its religious leader and advisor to Gov. Bradford. He was granted land on the islands of Boston Harbor which bear his name. His daughter Patience, our ancestor, came over in July, 1823 on the "Anne."
Likeness of William Brewster

Patience Brewster married Gov. Thomas Prence who had arrived on the "Fortune" in 1621. They had 4 children before her death, after which he married 3 more times. He served 3 terms as governor of Plymouth colony. He presided over Plymouth's first witch trial and is said to have handled it reasonably. He, too, helped found Eastham and was one of its biggest landowners on the Cape.

Their daughter Hannah married first Nathaniel Mayo and had 3 children before he died. She then married Captain Jonathan Sparrow.  Jonathan Sparrow came here with his parents about 1632. He was a Lieutenant in King Philip's War, then Captain of the militia of Eastham; deputy, representative to the Massachusetts General Court and magistrate for many years. They had our ancestor Patience Sparrow, who married Joseph Paine.

So, on this Fathers Day, my hat is off to these men and their sons, who founded this great country!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Elusive Hopkins Sisters

Pauline P. Hopkins

As I've said before, one of my favorite things to do is to find living cousins. One such example began with trying to find out more about my great-grandmother's sisters. Her name was Pauline P. Hopkins and she had three sisters with which she was close.

This was back when I started family research, in 1987. The first thing I did was ask my grandfather, since they would have been his aunts. In his typical fashion, he did not have much to say, darn it! So I asked my grandmother, his wife. She told me that one was named Maggie, one was named Dell, and one they called Beck, which was short for Rebecca. I have in my notes that she told me that all three were married to men named William. She also told me how many children that each had. But I didn't know their married names. I don't remember if she told me their names, but I did not have them written down. I think at the time I wasn't really interested in collateral lines, but of course since then,  I have learned just how important they can be!

More recently,  when I decided to try to find them, my first place to search was the census. I found them with their parents, Melvin and Pauline Hopkins. But after that they were in the wind. I asked my mother if she remembered any of their last names and she came up with Elser for Adella. She was right, I managed to find Adella and her husband William Elser. I tracked down her granddaughters and we are planning a get together this spring

But the other two sisters proved a lot more difficult. I remember looking at the Social Security death Index for a woman named Rebecca that would've been born in March 1844 and living in the Philadelphia area. I found one that fit the bill, with the last name of Noblit. I then looked for her in the census, and in 1940, there she was with her husband William. I asked my mother if that name sounded familiar to her and she said perhaps. But no luck in previous census years.

I did sort of the same thing with Maggie, except I just searched the census for a Margaret married to a William living in the Philadelphia area of the same age. The one that seem to fit the bill was married to a William Taylor, but I had no proof that she was my Margaret. I tracked her family forward through her children and grandchildren and even great-grandchildren and had no luck getting a response from anyone I thought was related to her.

So one day I bit the bullet and sent away for the Social Security application of this Maggie's son Leander. When that came back and confirmed that Margaret Hopkins was his mother, I was excited. From time to time I would search and dig through obituaries and try to locate someone still living that was related, but the last name of Taylor made it sort of tricky.

Last year, when Ancestry released all of the Pennsylvania death certificates, I found Maggie and located her burial plot at the same cemetery as my grandparents. When I requested the plot card from Fernwood, I saw that she had a son named Melvin, (her father's name) and a daughter who died as a baby named Pauline, (her sister's & mother's name). Now I was even more determined, but still had no luck finding any descendants.

Just last summer, I contacted a woman that had Maggie on her Ancestry tree. She told me that her cousin was Maggie's granddaughter. I was so excited to finally find someone! I called this lovely woman named Helen, and had a wonderful conversation with her. She loves hearing all about the research I've done, and although she's 88 years old, she is as sharp as a tack and remembers everything! She sent me wonderful photos and filled in lots of blanks for me. This photo is Maggie, her husband and one of their mothers. I like to think it's her mother as the pose is very personal.

Still, I was bummed about Rebecca. (She was named for her grandmother, the long-suffering counterfeiter's wife, of whom I am very fond!) I tried to find a death record, an obituary, a marriage record, any clue at all, but had zero luck. I was starting to doubt this Noblit woman was my Rebecca. 

So I again bit the bullet and ordered her Social Security application - it was my Rebecca! I renewed my efforts to find her and happened upon a 1910 Census in Philly of William Noblit with a wife Elizabeth. I jumped over to FamilySearch to check William Noblit's marriage record, saying out loud "OMG what if they were both married before?!" and there it was. He was married not once, but twice before he married a Rebecca H. Placket in 1932!! (I found Elizabeth's death record from 1919, after which he married a Florence Powell.)

So the digging commenced - sparks were flying as I clicked through records, learning more and more about Rebecca, her first husband Louis and their children. They had 5 or 6 children, but only 2 boys survived into adulthood - Melvin and Joseph, named for her father and her uncle. A set of twin girls were born prematurely (Pauline & Rosie) in 1904 and survived 1 and 3 days, not unusual at the time. But then things got a bit weird.

On a newspaper search, I found this in a Pittsburg paper dated 17 February, 1925:

Another news brief said the petition for divorce was filed with him being charged with desertion since 1913.

I'm confused - the 1920 Census showed Louis and his sons living together - no Rebecca. She is a roomer in another household, working as a laundress. In 1930, she is living at a Methodist Home for the Aged, working as a waitress. Louis is in Atlantic City, married to an Ida, with Melvin living there as well. Shared custody or preferring their dad, we'll not ever know.

I tracked their two sons forward in time, Melvin was straightforward - 1940 shows his wife and 2-year-old daughter in Atlantic City. Joseph was married with  4 children (Louis, Pauline, Rebecca & Frank) in Philadelphia in 1930. But I could NOT find him in 1940! What did pop up was a family with all of the same names & ages, in Philadelphia, but their last name was PERSICHETTI. I knew his father Louis Plaket was Italian, so maybe they went back to their real family name…not sure.

Then I found a news article from 1931 that may explain it. Joseph Plaket was arrested, with some other guys, for conspiracy to manufacture COUNTERFEIT MONEY! History repeats itself.

I have contacted Melvin's grandchildren and hope that as they go through their recently passed mother's belongings, we can help each other by sharing info.

Joseph's son and daughter are still living, and although I spoke with his daughter's daughter briefly, they haven't called me back. I just sent a letter with photos and info, hoping that they may contact me someday.

Check back soon for my newly focused search for the original Rebecca's family!!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

God Bless the Quakers

I looked for a very long time to find the parents of my 3X great-grandfather Samuel G. Hopkins (the notorious counterfeiter). Thanks to his criminal activity, the records of the investigators for the Secret Service gave me the information I needed to get their names. (Read that post HERE.)

It took a long search and a good bit of luck to find the book that tied in my Samuel's father Richard Hopkins to the rest of the Hopkins clan. But his mother, Mary Ann Gover, would prove to be a lot more elusive.

Like the Hopkins, the Gover family is quite large in Maryland. They also intermarried with the Hopkins family many, many, many times throughout history. That sure made finding Mary Ann's parents difficult.

I dug through deeds, death records, probate, newspaper archives, census records, plus more in both Baltimore and Harford Counties. And I really couldn't find anything. All that I knew was that they had married in November, 1817 at the First Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore city. But that church had no other info on Mary Ann.

I had found an old book about the Friends Burial Ground on Harford Road in Baltimore that listed Richard & Mary Ann's daughter Anne Eliza Hopkins as being buried there. Two of Richard's sisters  that Anne Eliza lived with were also buried there. But I really never considered that Mary Ann and/or Richard could be Quaker seeing how they were married at a Methodist Episcopal Church. Oops! Genealogy 101 - Don't make assumptions!

I had gotten pretty much to the end of ideas and hope for finding Mary Ann's family. So I contacted a genealogist I know that specialized in Harford County families. He looked through a few books that he had and found a listing for the Baltimore Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends (Quakers) that named Mary Ann in one entry of the Women's minutes.

The entry stated that Mary Ann Gover had married Richard Hopkins outside of and contrary to the Quaker faith! Unfortunately, there was no other information about her family or where she came from. I went online and read all of the Quaker records for the Baltimore meetings that Ancestry had recently put online. But I didn't really find anything else that led me to my goal. (The older records from Maryland that have not been extracted into book form can only be viewed in Annapolis or at Swarthmore College.)

A couple of weeks later I got an email from the genealogist and he told me that he had found an Ann Gover, her husband and minor children Philip, Priscilla and Samuel all moving from Deer Creek Monthly Meeting in Harford County to the Baltimore Monthly Meeting in 1812! Yippee!. Mary Ann Gover followed a couple of months later.

About three years ago, I had found a death notice of Ann Gover who had died in Baltimore in 1851 at age 85, and the funeral was being held at the residence of Samuel G Hopkins, which was the name of my 3X great grandfather. I made a note of it at the time saying "Maybe his maternal grandmother?" and tried to find more information on her to either prove or disprove a relationship.

One of the first books I checked was the same one that had given me Richard Hopkins' parents and grandparents etc., Colonial Families of the United States But the only entry in that book of someone named Ann marrying a Gover did not fit in a logical timeframe to be mine. Here is the entry on p. 364 of the Hopkins section of the book:

It was killing me! All the family's given names completely matched up to the names of children in later generations. Everything made sense except for the date of their marriage which was written in the book as 11 August 1761, which put their births about 1740. The newspaper Ann Gover had been born in 1766 if you went by her published age at death. 

The genealogist looked back through the Quaker Records of Northern Maryland (by Henry C. Peden) and found where on 22 September 1791 a Samuel Gover, son of Phillip and Mary Gover, deceased, intended to marry Ann Hopkins daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Hopkins. It also listed their actual marriage, both under Deer Creek Monthly Meeting.

So I pulled out the Colonial Families of the United States book again to cross check the dates in the the Gover section, p. 190. It was then I realized that the author had put the marriage date of Ann Gover's husband's parents 30 years before instead of Ann's and Samuel's actual marriage date of 1791!

With this mixup sorted out, I had everything I needed already in my database for these two parents of Mary Ann's since I had familiarized myself with all of them. They are so many different degrees of cousins. One couple, Gerard Hopkins & Margaret Johns, are in Richard & Mary Ann's tree like four times!

I now have Mary Ann's ancestors back into the early 1600s, thanks to these wonderful Quaker records, two of the books which I now have in my personal library.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Where there's a WILL...

Philadelphia City Hall

In the past few weeks I've had some killer breakthroughs in this elusive Phillips family. Yes, sometimes the angels smile down on City Hall.

I finally got the chance to order (I should say reorder) the probate file for William Phillips, Sr. Back in December I had asked for it and the Register of Wills in Philadelphia told me they didn't have any file for him.

Since my professional genealogist had made a list of several of the names I was looking for from the wills index when she visited there, I again asked for the file of a William Phillips from 1861, hoping it wasn't the guy that died three days before him of the same name!

Lo and behold, I got a file. But it was confusing. Two or three of the papers included had names that I recognized from when I first educated myself about every William Phillips in Philadelphia during that time period.  There was a wealthy William Phillips that bought a lot of property and died in 1845, and I remembered his sons names were Clement and Clifford. Well those were the names on these papers. (The last accounting of his estate wasn't until 1864, which explains how it wound up in this file.)

I was briefly disappointed, thinking here we go again, I got the wrong file. But then I noticed on one paper the name Mary Ann Hocker, which was my William's daughter's name! As I looked through the pages, I realized that the rest of the file belonged to my William. YAY!

They were mostly the accounting of his estate, such as who got how much money, who they had to pay funeral expenses, things like that. His son William Jr. was named the executor, which helped me out because then I knew he was still living in 1861.

Throughout these papers it mentions William's will, but there was no will enclosed. What the heck? There was also an interesting line on the account that said William, Jr. had traveled to Bradford County and back and it had cost $20. I wondered what was in Bradford County? It also mentioned the names of people to which he had loaned money. I made a list of them so that I could research later and see if they gave me any clues.

I shot an email to the pro genealogist and asked her was it possible that my William's will was in the file for the other William. She agreed that that could be likely. Our chance of recovering his will depended upon whether they were mixed up after the files were microfilmed in the 70s or if they were mixed up back in the 1800s. She agreed to check it out the next time she was at their office.

Lucky for me,  she (along with the most wonderful employee there - Claudine) found the missing will! It was an amazing handwritten 3 page document. And oh my gosh, what a treasure trove of information! The question about Bradford County was answered; William Sr. owned a 100 acre farm in Bradford County, Pennsylvania upon which, I found out later, his son Joseph Phillips lived! 

Last page of the will with his signature.

Here is the transcript of the will:

In the Name of God Amen…
I William Phillips Sr of Germantown 22nd Ward City of Philadelphia State of Pennsylvania now being deceased in body but of sound mind…considering the uncertainty of life…etc.
…My Last Will and Testament…
First …that all my debts and funeral expenses be duly paid and considered as soon as conveniently may be after my decease…
Item I give and bequeath unto my son Richard Phillips Six Hundred Dollars it is a mortgage against a House and Lot in Kensington,
Item I give and bequeath unto my son William Phillips One thousand dollars it being a Mortgage against his Property
Item I give and bequeath unto my daughter Mary Ann Hocker the interest of Eighteen hundred Dollars as long as she lives and at her decease it is to be divided in the following manner, Martha Hocker daughter of Mary Ann Hocker is to have Five hundred Dollars, Mary Hocker is to have One hundred Dollars, Mason Hocker is to have One hundred Dollars, Mary Phillips, daughter of William Phillips is to have One hundred dollars Mary Carpenter Daughter of Richard Phillips One hundred Dollars…Janette [sic] Phillips Daughter of William Phillips is to have One hundred Dollars, John Phillips son of Richard Phillips.  Two hundred Dollars, Charles Phillips children. Son of Richard Phillips, his children Three hundred Dollars to be equally divided among them. Elizabeth Hall daughter of William Phillips is to have One hundred Dollars, Caroline Phillips daughter of Joseph Phillips is to have One hundred Dollars.
Item I give and bequeath unto my son Joseph Phillips my farm situate on the western part of Pennsylvania, Bradford Township containing one hundred acres more or less of land to have the interest of it as long as he lives and at his death his widow is to have the interest of it for her and her children and at her death it is to be sold and equally divided among my son Joseph Phillip’s children. If Joseph Phillip’s widow gets married she is not to have but Twenty Dollars…

And lastly I nominate, constitute and appoint my said son William Phillips of the city of Philadelphia, shoemaker, to be the Executor of this my Last Will and Testament…etc.

Dated 9th November 1859                                                                        Signature
Witnessed:                                                                                              William Phillips
Edward N. Ladley
Jacob Good

You can see the whole file HERE.

Well, after reading that, I was off to the races. I needed to find William, Jr. and Joseph  Phillips and their families.

I had already suspected who in Philadelphia was my William Jr. My suspicions were confirmed when I noticed he lived next-door to one of the men William, Sr. had made a loan to! William Jr. was a shoemaker and had his own shoe store, which is probably why his father didn't leave him money, but did leave most to his widowed daughter. 

When I found Junior's death certificate, it contained the genealogical equivalent of the Holy Grail - his birthplace was noted as Portsmouth, England!

Joseph proved a little trickier, but I found him. It was very easy to know I had the correct Joseph Phillips when I looked at his children's names. They were: Richard (his brother's name), Caroline (his sister's name), and William (his brother's and his father's name). The farm was in the Troy township in Bradford County. I'll still need to find out how and when it was acquired.

So now I also have the signatures of William Sr., William, Jr., and my 4X great-grandmother Margaret Phillips thanks to these copies :-) I love collecting their signatures, they are so personal.

The moral of all of these stories? DON'T EVER GIVE UP!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

DNA - Winning!

did Ancestry DNA in 2011 and it's never really helped me with anything. Well, it has shown me a few distant distant cousins that I can figure out our common ancestor(s). But, between incomplete trees (or no tree) plus no response to an emailed inquiry, it's been just "Meh." Either no one related has tested or there just aren't many cousins out there.

For a long time, there's been this guy, Ron W.,  that has been ranked a "Very High" match to me, but his tree is sparse and showed no common surnames. We communicated a little, but didn't have much to go on.

Last summer, I decided to dig around in his tree a bit looking at women missing surnames to see if I could figure them out and find something in common. Did one woman, but found nothing common. Did another named Mary Ann whose husband was Christopher Hocker. I found the undertaker's record for her adult daughter Martha and it showed Mary Ann's maiden name - Phillips!  The 1880 census said Mary Ann was born in PA and showed her parents as being born in England. I sent Ron the info and said "Maybe this is our link, I have Phillips born in England too," and left it at that.

A couple of weeks ago, practicing my "just keep looking - dumb luck happens" philosophy, I went on Genealogy Bank thinking about early 1800s marriages of Phillips family members in Philadelphia. Imagine my delight when I found a February, 1830 marriage of Mary Ann Phillips to Christopher Hocker and - get this - it said she was the daughter of William Phillips of Frankford. That was my 5X great-grandfather's name and residence! (The name Hocker didn't ring a bell so many months after I originally found it, and remember, back then I didn't even know about William, so even had I found it, it had little meaning.)

I searched other Ancestry trees for the Hockers and found a guy that listed Mary Ann's maiden name as Fritz. I wrote him a note asking where he got that. A few days later, he told me his wife had a shoebox of papers which may be where it came from.  He sent me a document of a court case where Mary Ann's grandchildren were fighting over property left them by her daughter, Martha, their aunt. (Still no bells were ringing.)

That same day, I decided to add Mary Ann to my Ancestry tree as an unconfirmed daughter of my William Phillips and see what popped up hint-wise. Her daughter's funeral record showed as a "hint," but no bells rang in my head yet. 

Later that night, I was perusing hints from other peoples' trees for her, and there was the tree from the guy who had just sent me the court document, not a surprise. But, right under him was Ron W's tree - DING DING DING!!  I couldn't believe my eyes!

With our close DNA match, that pretty much confirmed she is Richard's sister. I sent Ron the news and the court case - Ron's grandfather was the plaintiff of that case. 

It is an amazing document. It lists other bequests from Mary Ann and her daughter to the grandchildren - including "silver marked W.M.P.," most likely William M. Phillips. There are  some deeds listed as relevant to the case. I race to my computer to find and read them with my fingers crossed.

One deed of 1893 (Mary Ann's death year) starts out "William Phillips Sr. of Germantown after making his last will & testament dated November {illegible} Mary Ann Hocker {gibberish},"  then goes on later with "The said Mary Hocker (that's Mary Ann's oldest daughter) named in the will of William Phillips Sr aforesaid subsequently intermarried with Edw Williams and died intestate..." then it's illegible again. Holy Moley!

Wait...the Register of Wills said there was no file for him. Since the deed online is so hard to read, I called the City Archives to see if better copies can be made and they said it was possible. Hopefully that will lead me to the correct probate file.
I also looked back at the 1850 Census that I suspected was William, still wondering if it's him. Head of household was a wealthy woman named Mary A. Burt, then was an Eliza Burt. Next was William, an old lady Ann Doal, then a family named Hecker. OMG, not HECKER! The enumerator spelled it wrong or it was transcribed wrong.

It was actually Mary Ann HOCKER, with her 3 kids (her husband Christopher died in 1847). I could never locate the Burts or Heckers in the City Directories or 1860 Census. Now I know why! 

I still haven't found a link to the Burt women, but maybe in time.

This Phillips family has been quite a ride! (Read my last 2 posts for more background.) I've located and talked to 2 other cousins that share the Hopkins/Phillips family with me. Both are granddaughters of sisters of my great-grandmother Pauline Phillips Hopkins (married to James S. Caterson, Jr.). We are planning a spring get together.

One sent me this delightful photo of her grandmother Maggie Hopkins and her husband William Taylor ca 1915. We are not sure who the older woman is, but with the familiar way in which Maggie is leaning on her, my money is on it being her mother, Pauline Phillips who married Melvin Hopkins. She is my great-great grandmother.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Shot in the Dark

I've looked long and hard for the origin of the patriarch of my Phillips family in Philadelphia, Richard Phillips, born ca. 1796. I knew he was born in England, and came to this country fairly early in his life. I have a deed where he was given a house in exchange for a debt in 1823, and that really helped pin it down a little.

Over time, I have searched naturalization records, passenger lists, and other online resources but have yet to find anything definitive. 

One day, while digging around in his family tree, I noticed something interesting. Richard had named one of his sons William. William, in turn, had named one of his sons William. Richard's daughter, Mary Jane Carpenter, had given her son the name William Phillips Carpenter, who named one of his sons the same.

It dawns on me that this name William must have some significance in the Phillips family. The most logical explanation would be that perhaps Richard's father had that name.

I pop on over to Family Search, and go to the Philadelphia death records. I put in the search: William Phillips, born in England between 1765 and 1780. One result that pops up looks promising. So I click on the link to see the document and start reading. William Phillips, Sr., born in England, check; born in 1776, check; died in 1861, occupation tailor, buried Baptist Ground Frankford.  Could be...

As I get to the bottom of the certificate I notice the address where this William Phillips died, 581 Wharton Street. It looked familiar to me. So I quickly look at Richard's death certificate and lo and behold the addresses are the same! Richard died on March 7, 1861 and his father William died in the same house on May 28, 1861. (1861 was a bad year for  the Phillips men - Richard's son William died in November that year.)

I quickly went to Genealogy Bank to see if I could find a death notice in the newspaper. Coincidentally, another William Phillips died on May 23 in Philadelphia also. But I managed to find my William and as the article was loading I begged for something interesting. And I got it!

His death notice stated that he was a soldier in the War of 1812 and that his funeral would be at the residence of his late son Richard Phillips, and gave the address. It also said that he would be buried at Frankford.

I did the happy dance so familiar to us genealogists when we find something significant :-)

The next day I sent a letter to the Philadelphia Register of Wills to see if they had a file for William. A couple weeks later they said there was no record found. Darnit.

I now know that the name William Phillips is pretty popular during the early to mid-1800s in Philadelphia.  I have dug through all of the city directories for that timeframe and still haven't really definitively found him. I cannot find him in the 1860 census. I did locate what could be him in the 1850 census living with two families I couldn't tie to him, so I'm not sure.

I dug through a whole bunch of naturalizations with no luck. I also waded through the Philly index of deeds and came up empty.

The conclusions so far: William was here by 1814; Richard came here with or to join his father;  if there is a William, Sr. it stands to reason there is a William, Jr.; they may have been Baptist (Richard's daughter Caroline was married by a Baptist minister) and William had some ties to the Frankford area of Philadelphia as he was buried there.
I did get help from a Philadelphia genealogist to try to find more about this family, but the results have been lukewarm at best. It's a tough time period and at this point, everything is a fishing expedition. 

But that's not the end of this story. Technology assists in a breakthrough in my next post.